When Donald Trump’s supporters in the GOP are asked about the many scandals surrounding his presidency, they insist that the economy is doing so well that the scandals don’t matter. As it turns out, however, the economy is not doing as well as Trump says it is by any measure he’s ever used in the past to criticize other presidents.
Since President @realdonaldtrump took office and despite his promises to reduce the nation’s trade deficit in goods, it has increased dramatically – going up to nearly $900 billion last year. That’s the largest in American history. pic.twitter.com/U6FMzBuNnK
— Wolf Blitzer (@wolfblitzer) March 6, 2019
Most notably, Trump has harped for some time about the U.S. trade deficit and how it proves that our government leaders don’t know what they’re doing. A businessman like Trump, he promised, could do so much better.
In just two years in office, the trade deficit under Trump has risen to historical levels. According to The Washington Post:
‘The Commerce Department said Wednesday that the United States last year posted an $891.2 billion trade deficit in merchandise, the largest in the nation’s 243-year history despite more than two years of President Trump’s “America First” policies.
‘The results were a sobering reminder that the laws of economics still apply to a president who had promised to supercharge economic growth while simultaneously shrinking the chronic U.S. trade deficit.’
— NYT Opinion (@nytopinion) March 8, 2019
The jobs report for February was more than disappointing. An expected 180,000 jobs resulted in just 20,000, but Trump covered that by saying that income levels are rising (adjusted for inflation, they really haven’t risen much). That little extra money was not spent on American goods, making the trade deficit even higher.
‘Americans spent more on foreign-made iPhones, Toyotas and Heinekens. And as the U.S. economy surged ahead of Europe’s and Japan’s, four Federal Reserve interest rate hikes lifted the dollar, making American exports more expensive.’
The results of Trumponomics:
–The largest trade deficit in history.
–A growing federal deficit and debt.
–Stagnant wages, adjusted for inflation.
–Corporations pouring billions into buybacks.
–Middle-class families lost billions in refunds.
–Huge executive bonuses.
— Robert Reich (@RBReich) March 6, 2019
More than any other factor affecting that deficit, however, was Trump’s strategy of imposing heavy tariffs on countries like China. The trade deficit with China is on the rise at a rapid pace despite those tariffs, which Trump was warned would be more harmful than good.
‘Tariffs became a key part of Trump’s strategy for shrinking the trade deficit, the difference between the country’s high import bill and its lower export sales. He used the import taxes — on solar panels, washing machines, steel, aluminum and assorted Chinese goods — to force China and other countries into negotiations, with the aim of rebalancing trade flows.
‘But while negotiations remain underway — with hopes of a deal with China this month — the data released Wednesday showed that significant improvement in the nation’s trade balance remains an ambition rather than an achievement.’
As a candidate, Mr. Trump railed against the trade deficit, declaring, "we can turn it all around… fast." Now facing record trade deficits, he’ll be silent. He is illogical, with no grounding in reality. That is NOT good for the economy—or anything else. https://t.co/e0woZpTVc1
— Tom Steyer (@TomSteyer) March 6, 2019
Another measure for gauging the health of the economy is the total spent on services in the U.S. compared to services paid for with U.S. money in other countries. On that measure, Trump lags woefully behind President Obama.
‘Last year’s goods shortfall topped the 2006 record of $838.3 billion, which was set as the housing bubble was peaking, and marked the third consecutive year of rising deficits.
‘A broader measure, which includes the services sector, showed a $621 billion deficit — more than $100 billion greater than the figure Trump inherited from President Barack Obama.’
Trump's tariff war with China hurt China's economy and reduced its demand for US goods, thereby actually helping to increase America's trade deficit rather than reduce it. @jimtankersley @AnaSwanson https://t.co/mbZ9a089Xc
— Peter Baker (@peterbakernyt) March 7, 2019